The National Pulse:
Rivalries, like the changing of the leaves, are a staple of college football that most enjoy and look forward to each year. No doubt people in Michigan and Ohio know what game is played the last Saturday in November, as well as those that live in Alabama.
Our rivalry games take on such significance that we even dub them with nicknames. For example, the Oregon-Oregon State game is called “the Civil War” while the Washington-Washington State clash is titled “the Apple Cup.” The Montana – Montana State game is called “the Brawl of the Wild” or the annual tilt between Mississippi and Mississippi State is given the moniker “the Egg Bowl.” So, in deference to the time-honored tradition of college football rivalries, let me list some of my favorite rivalry nicknames (in no particular order!):
#10 – The Holy War (BYU – Utah)
#9 – The Backyard Brawl (Pitt – West Virginia)
#8 – The Red River Rivalry (Oklahoma – Texas)
#7 – The Biggest Little Game in America (Williams – Amherst)
#6 – The Big Game (Cal – Stanford)
#5 – The Iron Bowl (Auburn – Alabama)
#4 – The Game (Michigan – Ohio State)
#3 – Bedlam (Oklahoma – Oklahoma State)
#2 – The Border War (Missouri – Kansas)
#1 – The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party (Georgia – Florida)
Perhaps some of you may be wondering why all this talk of rivalries with the calendar still saying October, well, Penn State is playing its biggest rival since the glory days of Pittsburgh. They will be squaring off with the scarlet and grey of “the” Ohio State. For those of us old enough to remember, the last college football Saturday used to be filled with taunts, jabs, and I dare say, hatred for the boys on the left of the state, but since the Pitt and Penn State ADs can’t seem to find enough common ground for a continual series, we will settle for the occasional home-and-home dates like the one set up for 2016 and 2017. Since Penn State joined the Big Ten, they were without a natural rival, until we looked a little further left of Pitt.
Sure I miss all the Pitt hatred I could spew at them, but now I have another team that I get to dish on, and that is the state school of the “mitten-state”. As Reggie Jackson of the New York Yankees once said, “fans don’t boo nobodies.” We cling to Ohio State as our lone rival not because they are from Ohio, though that would be a good enough reason, but because they are good. It’s a measuring stick for Penn State each and every year, and we know it. Even though Penn State and Ohio State will not be going to a bowl game this year, it still doesn’t stop each of us from thinking that we are the Big Ten Conference’s best team. I know, Michigan and Nebraska would like to have something to say about that this weekend as well. No matter, the winner of the annual Penn State – Ohio State game gets bragging rights for an entire year. Those of you that like teams involved in a rivalry game know that feeling when you walk up to your vanquished foe and say, “nanny nanny boo boo” and stick your tongue out at them. Perhaps we aren’t that juvenile, but we all want to puff out our chest when we walk around because we are kings for a year. No team engenders that type of feeling like a rival. So, as we watch the leaves turn colors and begin to fall, we celebrate our rivals because the bring out the best (and the worst) in the college football fan in all of us!